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Strengthen America Overseas

Senator Obama rejects the notion that the American moment has passed and believes that America must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission. Obama believes that America must lead the world, by deed and example. He believes America cannot meet the threats of the century alone and that the world cannot meet them without America.

Under his leadership, America will bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region; restore American moral leadership; renew the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges, such as terrorism and climate change; strengthen impoverished, weak and ungoverned countries that have become the most fertile breeding grounds for threats like terror and pandemic disease; and marshal a global effort to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

End the War in Iraq

“Thus far, the Iraqi government has made very little progress… in part because the President has refused time and again to tell the Iraqi government that we will not be there forever. The President’s escalation of U.S. forces may bring a temporary reduction in the violence in Baghdad, at the price of increased U.S. casualties – though the experience so far is not encouraging. But it cannot change the political dynamic in Iraq. A phased withdrawal can.”

Opposed the War from the Beginning:  Obama opposed the war in Iraq before the American invasion.  In October 2002, Obama said, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war...  Even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” 

Today, Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is one of the leading voices on Iraq policy. His legislation to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, S.433, helped form the basis of the bill passed by the Senate. Obama’s plan:

All Combat Troops Redeployed by 2009: Barack Obama would immediately begin redeploying American troops from Iraq.  The withdrawal would be strategic and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government.  Troops would be removed from secure areas first, with troops remaining longer in more volatile areas. The drawdown would begin immediately with one to two combat brigades redeploying each month and all troops engaged in combat operations out by the end of next year.

Residual Force to Remain: Under the Obama plan, American troops may remain in Iraq or the region.  These American troops will protect American diplomatic and military personnel in Iraq and continue striking at al Qaeda in Iraq. If Iraq makes political progress and their security forces are not sectarian, we would also continue training the Iraqi Security Forces. In the event of an outbreak of genocide, we would reserve the right to intervene, with the international community, if that intervention was needed to provide civilians with a safe haven.

Withdrawal is the Best Way to Pressure the Iraqi Government: Iraq’s leaders have put off reconciling and taking on greater security responsibility despite our efforts to pressure them to act. Drawing down our troop presence is the best way to finally apply real pressure on the Iraqi government to make the political accommodations necessary to heal the nation's sectarian rifts, and to take on more responsibility for providing security for their people.

A United Nations-Led Constitutional Convention: Iraq's constitution, approved in an October 2005 referendum, is the product of a Kurdish–Shiite deal.  Iraq's government was supposed to immediately revise the constitution to be more inclusive of Sunnis and to develop a more sustainable balance between Baghdad's centralized authority and provincial governments. They never did.  Barack Obama would have the United Nations convene a constitutional convention in Iraq that would include representatives from all levels of Iraqi society.  The convention would not adjourn until national reconciliation is reached and contentious questions such as federalism, oil revenue sharing, and de-Ba'athification are resolved.

Support Iraqi Stability: Barack Obama would work with Kurdish leaders to come to an accommodation with Turkish leaders who see the Kurdish ascendance as a threat.  He would press Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia to use their influence to encourage Iraqi Sunnis to reconcile.  To combat terrorism, Obama would press Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to stem the flow of foreign fighters, arms, and financial resources into Iraq. Obama would also be a tough negotiator with Syria and Iran, sending a clear message that they need to stop meddling in Iraq’s affairs.

Prevent the War's Spread Beyond Iraq: To prevent spillover – in particular, Turkish or Iranian adventurism – the Obama plan would promote a regional compact that would ensure commitments by Iraq's neighbors to non-intervention and to Iraq's territorial integrity.

A New Cooperative Security Framework in the Gulf: As we disengage from Iraq's civil war, America needs to support regional sources of stability. This is particularly important given recent claims from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran will fill any vacuum created by American withdrawal.  Barack Obama would work to develop a long-term strategy of regional cooperation.  This will not only improve Iraq's stabilization and regional integration, but also serve as a check against Iran's regional ambitions.

Take Care of Refugees: Barack Obama would establish an international working group dedicated to addressing the Iraqi refugee crisis.  He would increase American investments in Iraq's refugees and internally displaced people and to the neighboring countries that house them.  He would work with Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt to dramatically increase access to social services for refugees. He also would work to create safe havens for Iraqis who remain in Iraq, but are displaced from their homes by violence.

Secure International Assistance: To improve conditions in Iraq, Barack Obama would secure greater regional contributions to humanitarian relief, refugee care and integration, and economic assistance.  Obama would build on the United Nations' new willingness to expand its mission in Iraq and encourage the European Union, the Arab League and other regional groupings to expand their relief and assistance efforts.

Prevent Genocide: Barack Obama would work with the international community to hold the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes. If necessary, he would work with the United Nations to establish an independent war crimes commission or appoint a special investigator who would gather testimonies of survivors and investigate war crimes. Obama would supply armed escorts to civilians who voluntarily choose to move from religiously heterogeneous areas to communities where they feel they will be more secure. He would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress genocidal violence within Iraq.

Fulfill America's Obligation to Accept Refugees: The State Department pledged to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees into America, but has only let 190 into the United States. Obama would expedite the Department of Homeland Security's review of Iraqi asylum applicants. Obama also would appeal to the Coalition's original partners to expand their refugee quotas.  Coalition partners such as Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Japan have done woefully little to meet the refugee crisis, and must be encouraged to do more. Arab governments, especially American allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, should also be enlisted.

Rebuild Our Alliances

“Today, it’s become fashionable to disparage the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations. In fact, reform of these bodies is urgently needed if they are to keep pace with the fast-moving threats of today. But real reform will not come . . . by bullying other countries . . . . Real reform will come because we convince others that they too have a stake in change – that such reforms will make their world, and not just ours, more secure.”

Barack Obama would restore America’s standing, reputation and authority in the world.
As president, Obama will:

End the Use of Torture and Extraordinary Rendition: Military and intelligence experts agree that torture is not an effective means of interrogation, and our using it threatens American troops serving abroad. From both a moral standpoint and a practical standpoint, torture is wrong. Barack Obama will end the use of torture without exception. He also will eliminate the practice of extraordinary rendition, where we outsource our torture to other countries.

Close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center: Guantanamo has become a recruiting tool for our enemies. The legal framework behind Guantanamo has failed completely, resulting in only one conviction. President Bush’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, wants to close it. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell wants to close it. The first step to reclaiming America’s standing in the world has to be closing this facility. As president, Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo. He will reject the Military Commissions Act, which allowed the U.S. to circumvent the Geneva Convention in the handling of detainees. He will develop a fair and thorough process based on the Uniform Code of Military Justice to distinguish between those prisoners who should be prosecuted for their crimes, those who can’t be prosecuted but who can be held in a manner consistent with the laws of war, and those who should be released or transferred to their home countries.

Restore Habeas Corpus: The right of habeas corpus allows prisoners to ask a court to determine whether they are being lawfully imprisoned. Recently, this right has been denied to those deemed enemy combatants. Barack Obama strongly supports bipartisan efforts to restore habeas rights. He firmly believes that those who pose a danger to this country should be swiftly tried and brought to justice, but those who do not should have sufficient due process to ensure that we are not wrongfully denying them their liberty.

Strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: For nearly 50 years, NATO was oriented to fighting the Cold War. NATO needs to continue its evolution to meet the emerging threats of the 21st century, including terrorism and weapons proliferation. Barack Obama will close the gap between NATO’s expanding missions and its lagging capabilities. He will rally members to contribute more troops, increase NATO’s ability to deploy forces rapidly over long distances and sustain high intensity operations for extended periods of time. He will work to streamline decision-making processes and give commanders in the field more flexibility. And he will urge member states to invest more in reconstruction and stabilization.

Build Framework for East Asian Cooperation: In Asia, the emergence of an economically vibrant, more politically-engaged China offers new opportunities for prosperity and cooperation. Barack Obama will forge a new and lasting framework for collective security in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad-hoc arrangements like the six-party talks. As president, he would work to develop a more effective regional framework with the countries in the region to promote stability and confront transnational threats.

Combat Global Climate Change: Climate change is an unprecedented man-made threat to the environment.  As the largest producer of greenhouse gases, America must lead by capping and reducing greenhouse emissions across the economy, and replacing more of our fossil fuels with clean-burning renewables and biofuels. Barack Obama would work towards binding, enforceable commitments from developed nations to reduce carbon emissions and provide more assistance to developing countries to help them fuel their growth with greener energy.

Expand Security and Opportunity Across the Globe

“The true desire of all mankind is not only to live free lives, but lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and simple justice.”

As president, Barack Obama will:

Double U.S. Spending on Foreign Aid to $50 Billion a Year by 2012: Barack Obama would target this new spending towards strategic goals, including helping the world’s weakest states to build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth. He also would help weak states fight terrorism, halt the spread of deadly weapons, and build the health care infrastructure needed to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, as well as detect and contain outbreaks of avian influenza.

Demand More in Return: Obama believes that for developing countries to succeed and for U.S. assistance to be most effective, they must take concrete steps to improve the rule of law, build transparent, accountable government institutions and renew respect for human rights. He would help developing countries invest in the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force.

Work to Eliminate the Education Deficit: Worldwide, an estimated 100 million children are not attending school according to Human Rights Watch. Barack Obama would invest part of increased U.S. assistance in establishing a Global Education Fund that spurs the world to join together to eliminate the global education deficit.

Reduce Debt of Developing Nations: Developing nations are amassing tremendous amounts of foreign debt that limit their economic development and make investments in public health, education, and infrastructure extremely difficult. Debt in Sub-Saharan Africa stands at $235 billion, 44 percent of the region’s gross domestic product and an increase of 33 percent since 1990. Obama would work with other developed nations and multilateral institutions to cancel remaining onerous debt while pushing reforms to keep developing nations from slipping back into fiscal ruin. Obama also would better coordinate trade and development policies to use the full range of America’s economic power to help developing nations reap the benefits of the global trading system.

Prevent an Avian Flu Pandemic:  Barack Obama was one of the first legislators to recognize the dangers of a potential global avian influenza pandemic, and was successful in securing $25 million that U.S. agencies in Southeast Asia are currently using to combat and contain widespread outbreaks of avian flu. He also worked with other Senators to provide $4 billion in funding to the Centers for Disease Control to combat avian flu, including more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs that had been in short supply.

Defeat Terrorim Worldwide

Increase Non-Military Aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion: Before the American invasion, Afghanistan was a failed state whose government did not provide for the security and needs of its people. It was the perfect environment in which al Qaeda could flourish. Today, Afghan security is undercut by lack of development, corruption, and drug trafficking. To prevent the country’s backsliding into chaos, Barack Obama would increase U.S. non-military aid to Afghanistan to $3 billion. This aid would fund reconstruction, police and army training, embassy operations, and local projects including efforts that impact the lives of ordinary Afghans and give farmers alternatives to growing opium poppies. The aid would also be tied to better performance by the Afghan national government, including anti-corruption initiatives and efforts to extend the rule of law across the country.

Demand More from Pakistan: As was made clear in the recent National Intelligence Estimate, al Qaeda has successfully made the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan a base to launch attacks into Afghanistan and beyond. As president, Barack Obama would condition U.S. military aid to Pakistan on their making progress to close down the training camps, evict foreign fighters, and prevent the Taliban from using Pakistan as a base to strike inside Afghanistan. In addition, if the United States has actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will not act on it, an Obama Administration will. Obama also will increase aid to Pakistan for development and secular education to counter extremists.

Improve Intelligence Gathering at Home and Abroad: Barack Obama will improve the American intelligence apparatus by investing in its capacity to collect and analyze information, share information with other agencies and carry out operations to disrupt terrorist operations and networks.

Strengthen Institutions to Fight Terrorism: Overseas, Barack Obama will establish a Shared Security Partnership Program to improve cooperation between U.S. and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This program will include information sharing, funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and the targeting of terrorist financing. This effort will focus on helping our partners succeed without repressive tactics, because brutality breeds terror, it does not defeat it.

Launch a Public Diplomacy Effort: World opinion of the United States has fallen significantly since September 11, 2001. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 80 percent of citizens of predominantly Muslim countries have solidly negative views of the United States. Barack Obama will launch a coordinated, multi-agency program of public diplomacy. He will open “America Houses” in cities across the Arab world.  Modeled on the successful program the United States launched in Germany following World War II, America Houses would offer state-of-the-art English-language training programs, discussions, and a wide selection of current periodicals, newspapers, and literature. They would offer free Internet access and moderated programs that promote direct exchange with Americans through the use of modern information technology. Obama also would launch a new “America’s Voice Corps” to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of local languages (Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish) with public diplomacy skills, who can ensure our voice is heard in the mass media and in our efforts on the ground. Together these initiatives will show the Arab world the best America has to offer.

Speak Directly to Muslim Audiences: Obama will personally lead diplomacy efforts, beginning with a speech at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration. He will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the proponents of hate and violence.

End Genocide in Darfur and Lift Up Africa

Stop the Genocide in Darfur.  Barack Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is one of the leading voices for ending the conflict in Darfur.  He has traveled to the United Nations (UN) to meet with Sudanese officials and visited refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border to raise international awareness of the ongoing humanitarian disaster there.  While the U.S. has provided aid and military resources in Darfur, Obama believes this is America’s moment to confront the crisis and lead the way toward an end to this four year-old genocide. 

Implement a No-Fly Zone: Barack Obama believes we need to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Darfur and to increase pressure on Khartoum to halt the killing and consent to a robust international force.  As we have seen over the last four years, Khartoum will use any weapon in its arsenal to assert its control over the region.  The international community must respond with resolve, and force if necessary, to protect the people in Darfur and end the genocide.  Obama cosponsored legislation that called on the UN to deploy peacekeeping troops to the region as soon as possible and urged the President to work with NATO and the UN to enforce a no-fly zone in Darfur. 

End the Conflict in Congo:  An estimated 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began. Nearly 80 percent of Congo's 56 million people live in extreme poverty and more than 70 percent are undernourished.
Senator Obama wrote and passed legislation to build on the historic 2006 democratic election and promote stability in the country. Barack Obama revamped U.S. policy in the Congo to include a commitment to help rebuild the country, develop lasting political structures, hold accountable destabilizing foreign governments, crack down on corrupt politicians, and professionalize the military. The bill also authorizes $52 million in U.S. assistance for the Congo, calls for a Special U.S. Envoy to resolve ongoing violence, and urges the administration to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping force.

Fight AIDS Worldwide: There are 40 million people across the planet infected with HIV/AIDS. Every day, AIDS kills 8,000 and HIV infects 6,000 more people. The disease is set to become the third-leading cause of death worldwide in the coming years. Barack Obama has been a global leader in the fight against AIDS. He traveled to Kenya and took a public HIV test to encourage testing and reduce the stigma of the disease. Obama joined Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) at a large California evangelical church to promote greater investment in the global AIDS battle. At this conservative Christian event, Obama pushed a balanced approach to fighting the disease that includes condom distribution. Obama also worked with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and others to introduce the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Secure and Stop the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

“America must lead again . . . by marshalling a global effort to meet a threat that rises above all others in urgency – securing, destroying, and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. . . . As president, I will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years – the most effective way to prevent terrorists from acquiring a bomb.”

America is facing a dangerous new nuclear era. Terrorists are seeking nuclear weapons, and there is little doubt that if they acquire them or the materials to make them, they will use them.  There are still approximately 50 tons of highly enriched uranium at civilian nuclear facilities in over forty countries – some of it poorly secured. In the former Soviet Union, there are approximately 15,000-16,000 nuclear weapons and stockpiles of uranium and plutonium capable of making another 40,000 scattered across 11 time zones. People have been caught trying to smuggle nuclear materials to sell them on the black market.  With the right kind of presidential leadership, this threat can be dramatically reduced.

Secure Materials in Four Years: Barack Obama will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years – the most effective way to prevent terrorists from acquiring a catastrophic bomb. Barack Obama will work with Russia to make sure its nuclear weapons and every cache of nuclear material is secured. He will work with other countries to develop and implement a comprehensive set of standards to protect nuclear materials from attacks and theft. He also will increase the pace at which nuclear security detectors are placed at key border crossings.

Lead by Example: To reduce global nuclear dangers, it is essential for the United States to lead by example. U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons remain in Cold War postures, increasing the risk of accidental or unauthorized launch. Barack Obama would work with Russia to take as many nuclear weapons off Cold War hair-trigger alert as possible and negotiate reductions in United States and Russian nuclear arsenals. With these changes, he will maintain a strong nuclear deterrent to protect America’s security without rushing to produce a new generation of warheads that will send the wrong signal to the world.

Ban the Production of Materials to Make Nuclear Weapons: Barack Obama would negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

Stop Nuclear Smuggling: Barack Obama would fully implement the Lugar-Obama legislation to help our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world.

Address Threats Posed by North Korea’s and Iran’s Nuclear Programs: Barack Obama would use a combination of diplomacy and pressure to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Obama will assemble an international coalition that will exert a collective will to convince these regimes that it is in their own interest to verifiably abandon their nuclear weapons efforts. He will provide the leadership essential to ensure the full implementation of the recent agreement with North Korea. With Iran, Obama will pursue intensified diplomacy and be prepared to talk directly with Iran. At the same time, he will build on recent actions by the U.N. Security Council to restrict the supply of nuclear technology and freeze the assets of Iranian leaders. Obama would also expand this effort by working with our key European trading partners and the Gulf States to increase economic pressure on Iran. Obama also would keep all other options on the table, including the use of force.

Prevent New Nuclear States: Countries should not be able to build a nuclear weapons program under the auspices of developing peaceful nuclear power. Toward that end, Barack Obama would create an international fuel bank to back up commercial fuel supplies so there is an assured supply of fuel and no more excuses for nations like Iran to build their own enrichment plants. The Nuclear Threat Initiative has offered $50 million in funding to create such a bank provided it is matched 2-1 by government contributions. Obama would get the fuel bank started with an investment by the United States and urge other nations to contribute to it, starting with Russia.

Strengthen America at Home

Reform Washington

Shine Light on Washington Lobbying:  As a senator, Barack Obama pushed Congress to pass the most sweeping lobbying reform legislation since Watergate. The legislation Obama championed will ban gifts from lobbyists and eliminate Senate floor, gym, and parking privileges for former Senators, Senate Officers, and Speakers of the House who are lobbyists. As president, Obama will build on these successful efforts to grant the public specific and useful information about how lobbyists are trying to influence Washington.

Shine the Light on Federal Contracts, Tax Breaks and Earmarks:
Every American has the right to know how the government spends their tax dollars, but that information has been hidden from public view for too long. In the Senate, Barack Obama teamed up with Sen. Tom Coburn (R - OK) to pass a law that will lift the veil of secrecy in Washington by creating a Google-like search engine that will allow regular people to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans online. As president, Obama will give voters more tools to track special interest spending.

Hold 21st Century Fireside Chats: People who care deeply about issues in Washington but live outside the Beltway rarely have the opportunity to question and interact with government agencies. Messages are filtered through the media, and many times the hard questions are not asked. Barack Obama will bring democracy and policy directly to the people by requiring his Cabinet officials to have periodic national broadband town hall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.

Conduct Regulatory Agency Business in Public: Every day, government agencies make decisions that affect Americans’ lives. These decisions should be informed by public deliberation and input, but at many agencies these deliberations are conducted out of the public view. For example, several agencies, including the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, hold public meetings only one or two days a month. On all the other days, the commissioners and staff members host lobbyists and lawyers in private meetings and operate outside of the public eye. In these private meetings, companies can make their case for the regulation that they want. Average citizens cannot participate in this process, and consumer groups just do not have the resources to offset the waves of corporate lobbyists that constantly walk the halls of these agencies.

As president, Barack Obama will require his appointees who lead the Executive Branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet as the agencies debate and deliberate the issues that affect American society.  Videos of meetings will be archived on the web, and the transcript will be available to the press and public. Obama will also require his nominees to commit to employ all the technological tools available to allow average citizens not just to observe, but also to participate and be heard on the issues that affect their daily lives.

Health Care

Increase Access and Lower Health Costs:  Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.  These common sense steps will cut overall health-care costs by 10 percent or more.  

Support American Working Families

Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty.  Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had not changed in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968.  As president, Obama would further raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the EITC to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families out of poverty and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing – things so many people take for granted.

Improve Afterschool and Daycare Opportunities: Millions of American families are struggling to juggle job and family responsibilities. Many low-income parents struggle to maintain employment and afford childcare. Barack Obama has sponsored legislation in the Illinois Senate to establish grants for after-school programs. He believes in increasing federal support for after-school programs with proven records of success at helping children avoid crime and drugs.

Expand Paid Sick Days:  Today, three-out-of-four low-wage workers have no paid sick leave. It is fundamentally unfair that a parent playing by the rules can get fired or lose wages because her child gets sick. Barack Obama supports efforts to guarantee workers seven days of paid sick leave per year, a moderate proposal that should not impose too onerous a burden on employers.

Combat Mortgage Fraud and Subprime Loans:  The implosion of the subprime lending industry threatens to bring foreclosure to over two million households, including many families with children. Barack Obama has been closely monitoring this situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama’s STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity. This bill also provides counseling to homeowners and tenants to avoid foreclosures. Finally, Obama’s bill requires the Government Accountability Office to evaluate and report to Congress on various state lending practices so that state regulations that undermine consumers’ rights can be identified and hopefully eliminated.

Education

Increase Funding for Head Start: Research shows that many poor and minority children do not enter kindergarten ready to learn.  Black children start school substantially behind white children in reading and math, and these early achievement gaps expand throughout elementary school.  Barack Obama supports increasing funding for the Head Start program to provide low-income preschool children with critically important learning skills, and supports the necessary role of parental involvement in the success of Head Start.

Place High-Quality Teachers in Low-Income Classrooms:  Some studies have indicated that the most important factor in a child’s education is the quality of her teacher.  Barack Obama introduced a plan to support school districts that try new methods to improve student achievement and reward high-quality teachers and school leaders.  Under his initiative, 20 districts across the country will get grants to develop innovative plans in consultation with their teacher unions. High-performing teachers, and those who take on new responsibilities, such as working at struggling schools and mentoring new teachers, will be eligible for pay increases beyond their base salary.  These innovation districts will show results that can be replicated in other school districts.

Make College More Affordable: College tuition rates are rising almost 10 percent a year. These surging tuitions priced more than 200,000 students out of college altogether in 2004. Two decades ago, the maximum grant covered 55 percent of costs at a public four-year college, compared with only 32 percent today. The very first bill Barack Obama introduced in the U.S. Senate was a bill to help make college more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant amount to $5,100. Barack Obama will also eliminate wasteful subsidies to private banks under the federal student loan program. Reforming this program will save taxpayers nearly $6 billion dollars each year – money that Obama will direct to fund need-based grants, such as the Pell Grant.

 

Barack Obama | Where Barack Stands
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